Day 21 - ANZAC Day

Gallipoli Travel Blog

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Dawn, at ANZAC Cove

At 3am the MC for the dawn service jumped behind the microphone, waking everyone up. He did so to inform us that there were still many people on the way to Gallipoli and asked us to accommodate the latecomers by squashing up even more.  Yeah, right.  Be they fellow ANZACs or not, I don’t think too many of us who arrived the day before were too willing to give up much of the little space we’d secured by lying in the freezing cold all night!!  Michelle and I nodded off again.  I’d thought we might stay awake the whole night to enjoy all the entertainment provided but a sleepless bus ride to Gallipoli made it all too hard.  Even the bitter cold was insufficient to keep us awake.

The dawn service began at about 5:30am and was really well timed, coming to a close just after the sun had risen (although we couldn’t see the rise ourselves, since we were sat beneath the cliffs of ANZAC cove).

5 of the Soldiers at ANZAC

It was so cold that most people dare not venture from their sleeping bags for the service.  Most of the photos taken of the crowd that morning will show a sea of giant caterpillars staring towards the stage. 

The service was extremely moving.  Dignitaries from Australia, New Zealand and Turkey gave touching speeches that had everyone glassy eyed.  The last post and two minutes silence were amazing, everyone was spellbound. 

The dawn service was quite short and whilst the build up to the event was really long, running through the night, no sooner had the MC thanked us for our attendance the huge crowd began to disperse.

Craig and I making our way to Lone Pine, the LONG way
  The first of the memorial services at the cemeteries (the first being the Australian service at Lone Pine) were still almost four hours away but most people seemed really keen to secure themselves a great vantage point.

Our group decided to wait out the rush, eating a little breakfast and taking our time to pack up our gear.  We then had to undertake the mission of finding our bus.  Over 200 coaches had ferried everyone to Gallipoli and they were all parked outside ANZAC Cove, parked end-to-end along the one road into the site from the North.  Naturally, our coach had to be one of those towards the end of the line, so by the time we’d packed away our sleeping gear and begun the walk back towards ANZAC Cove (through which we had to pass to get to Lone Pine), we’d barely two hours to pass before the start of the memorial service.  Two hours was plenty of time but Craig, Rebecca, Michelle and I didn’t do ourselves any favours when we chose to jump on our coach as it drove past.

It was a full house at the service at Lone Pine
  Thinking it would drive us all the way to Lone Pine, it took us past the shortcut through the bush we needed to take and stop a kilometre further down the road.  So, we had to walk all the way back and then up the shortcut. 

We made it to Lone Pine with a half hour to spare, so whilst we didn’t miss anything, the only space left for us to sit was at the back of the furthermost stands.  Thanks to the two big screens and great sound system set up at the site, this vantage point still afforded us a great view of the proceedings. 

The memorial service was much like the dawn service, many of the same dignitaries giving similar speeches, wreath laying, the last post and this time one minutes silence. 

After the Australian service at Lone Pine there was a Turkish service at the cemetery for the 57th regiment and then a kiwi service at Chunuck Bair.  We decided to give the latter two a miss (as they entailed a long trek and to see them on time we probably would have had to leave the Australian service early).  Instead we spent a couple of hours relaxing at Lone Pine, grabbing one of the Turkish staples for lunch “Chicken Kebap” and just enjoying the warmth of the sunshine, which was much needed to thaw our frozen bones from the night before.

Getting everyone back on the bus was a drawn out affair but no one went missing, so we got away at a comparatively early 3pm and our bus driver put his foot down to get us back to Istanbul as we were all very keen to catch the end of the cricket.

Unfortunately, we didn’t know of a pub where we’d be able to catch the game, so when we finally did get back to the hotel (only in time for the Australian reply to the South Africans measly 149 run target) we were resigned to following an internet radio broadcast whilst enjoying a few quiet beers in the hotel bar.
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Dawn, at ANZAC Cove
Dawn, at ANZAC Cove
5 of the Soldiers at ANZAC
5 of the Soldiers at ANZAC
Craig and I making our way to Lone…
Craig and I making our way to Lon…
It was a full house at the service…
It was a full house at the servic…
photo by: scacos2006